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by Bill Sardi
March 31, 2010
Question from an LR [LewRockwell.com] reader: "I want to ask you what you would prescribe for the US health care system? How much government should be involved, if at all? "What kind of health care system do you think would be the best for our nation?"
1. All health insurance plans promote irresponsibility. People just run to the doctor and believe their doctor is responsible for keeping them healthy, not themselves.
2. Health insurance is a ponzi scheme, with the young and healthy paying for the old and chronically ill and those with poor health habits, though I should add that smokers actually cost insurance plans less money over the long haul since they die sooner.
3. With a large pool of money available, the insurance pot gets raided and doctors and hospitals overcharge since there is no market control. There is nothing the plan won't pay for, no matter how expensive, because the desperate public will demand it. You learn your mother has breast cancer. You will stop at nothing to see she gets the most advanced care, and the more her disease progresses, the more you will demand something be done, even unproven treatment.
4. High-tech care caused Americans to falsely believe their healthcare system is the best in the world, and they want more of it. Fancy imaging technology (cat scans, MRIs), unproven but less invasive particle beam radiation treatment, robotic surgery – all are in huge public demand. A Rand Corporation study showed high-technology is the main driver in the high cost of health care.
We are living a fantasy to believe American government can provide all the high-tech medical care that is available (example: latest New York Times article suggests $5000 disease gene testing for all).
5. About 85% of Americans have health insurance. To provide insurance to the remaining population, largely illegal immigrants, places financial and manpower strains on the delivery of health care that the industry is not prepared for. It was Winston Churchill who said: "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery."
6. Because other countries provide universal health insurance is only to say the bills are paid. This represents provision (welfare) for doctors and hospitals. The system rewards treatment, not cure. Modern medicine has substituted markers of poor health, such as cholesterol, PSA, blood pressure, rather than true end points, such as survival or being drug free.
While many Americans envy countries that offer universal health care, most universal health care plans will soon fail. The National Health Service in Britain is about to implode.
The day is fast coming when health insurance schemes collapse and self care becomes the order of the day. But many Americans aren’t ready for this.
Certainly many Americans are angry at the passage of Obamacare. But a man I met at a Postal Annex store said he needed the insurance coverage and welcomed it, as he has problems with his joints and diabetes. He wanted the medicines that only the insured can afford.
However, Obamacare, or even the pre-existing healthcare system, would not make him any healthier. But this man, along with many other Americans, has no perception of this.
Drugs will be prescribed for him that calm symptoms but never restore health and in fact may create new diseases. Some drugs cause the very disease they are intended to treat.
Obamacare pays more doctor and hospital bills, but it will also increase utilization and overall costs and it burdens the economy with higher health insurance premiums. AT&T reports Obamacare will cost them an extra $1 billion a year. For the 85% of Americans who were already covered by health insurance, Obamacare is a step down in availability of care. But recognize, the system is collapsing and unaffordable regardless of the insurance scheme in place.
Obamacare only adds to the nation’s growing healthcare bill. Medicare is not only insolvent, but it has $60 trillion of future obligations it cannot meet. The day is fast coming when health insurance cards will be worthless. American government will have to default on its promise to provide health care for all, especially its retirees, Obamacare or not.
Yes, other countries provide universal care, but they aren’t facing a population bulge of Baby Boomers now entering Medicare age, nor do other countries have so much unnecessary care (estimated $700 billion of needless care in the Medicare system, the Congressional Budget Office estimates). For example, PSA tests, mammograms and coronary angiograms have recently been reported to be of marginal value or over-prescribed.
Private practice American medicine can’t be compared to other countries that provide universal care. In those countries, their doctors on a fixed salary. More and more US doctors are now opting out of private practice and taking a salaried job.
However, the American public mistakenly believes their insurance companies are holding out on them and they are undertreated and deserve more care, not less. With Obamacare, Americans will experience more rationed care.
7. Waiting lines for care will predictably lengthen as there simply aren’t enough primary care doctors to handle the increased patient load. Americans are going to have difficulty getting used to delayed care instead of the accustomed care on demand.
Wait-a-while medicine is part of most universal health insurance programs worldwide. For example, in Canada, once target budgets are expended, patients wait months for a cataract removal/lens implant operation. During that wait time, if you fall and break your hip because you couldn’t see a step while walking in the dark, and then you succumb to pneumonia while laid up from the hip surgery, no one will blame it on delayed care.
8. Universal care just delivers more needless and ineffective care. Americans involved in the healthcare debate are arguing over the wrong issues. Americans want freedom to choose their health plan, their doctor, their hospital. This is not the problem. If you have no money, you can no more have the freedom to choose your doctor and health plan than to choose whether you would like to buy a Chevy or a Cadillac at the car lot. You can’t have these freedoms when treatment is no longer affordable. And why does the American public keep clamoring for care that doesn’t work and is even harmful?
The only three proven medical technologies are (a) mending broken bones; (b) replacing cloudy cataracts; (c) repairing decayed teeth. The rest are questionable.
Americans cannot believe what has happened right before their eyes – that in an era of overuse of antibiotics and germ resistance, and over-promotion of vaccines, modern medicine itself has spawned a whole new set of diseases, namely Type I (childhood) diabetes, childhood asthma, irritable bowel (colitis), autism, and celiac disease. Modern medicine IS the disease!
Forty years of telling the cholesterol lie makes it difficult to undo the false cholesterol phobia. For example, eggs, loaded with cholesterol, have not been found to raise circulating cholesterol levels. For the majority of U.S. adults age 25+, consumption of one egg a day accounts for less than 1% of coronary heat disease risk. Health insurance pays for many false cures and unproven medical technologies. Universal health care seeks to pay for more of the same.
Americans have a knee-jerk reaction when they hear of panels who will decide whether your loved ones receive care in the last days of their lives. But Americans fail to realize euthanasia is already being practiced. Hundreds of thousands of senile Americans are prescribed medicines for their dementia that hasten early death.
9. Self care is an underutilized option. However, Americans have been trained to run to the doctor when anything ails them. The typical senior American is taking a number of inappropriate medications and afraid to stop taking any of them. To most Americans, self care means swallowing a bunch of overpriced pharmaceutical concoctions every morning. Most senior Americans are concerned that dietary supplements will interfere with their medicines, not the other way around.
I ask people who call me if they ascribe to natural medicine. They typically answer "yes, I am only taking three prescription drugs!" Too many Americans have fallen for the false notion that chronic disease is not a drug deficiency.
Self care is not something doctors and hospitals want to promote. One would think managed care plans would promote self care because they would theoretically get to keep more per capita money that way, but they want to keep costs high so their cut of the financial pie remains lucrative.
Even in countries which provide universal payment for health care, there is increasing awareness that self care is a better route to take. One consultant in Britain says "the time has come to break the national dependency upon the National Health Service….. which denies the confidence to take control of their own and their families’ health."
I am making a protracted appeal to consider self care because I know Americans simply aren’t ready to embrace it.
I have spoken with many Americans. If their health plan will provide them with a problematic pharmaceutical drug for $1 deductible in their drug benefits program, they will opt for the drug over a $15 dietary supplement solely because of cost. Forget that most drugs induce nutrient deficiencies and the patient will never get well. Dietary supplements are not paid for by health plans. The system is designed to only push patented man-made molecules on patients.
Before I present a list of home remedies for some of the most common maladies, which gives instruction how to practice self care, I am trying to shock Americans out of their dependence upon drugs and doctoring. This is because most who read this column will simply attempt to mix problematic medicines with nature’s remedies.
Yes, you will need to take a vitamin B12 supplement if you take prescription antacid drugs because they will induce a B12 deficiency. Yes, you need to take supplemental coenzyme Q10 if you take a statin drug or a beta blocker drug. But why flirt with danger?
I recently provided an example at LR of a man who survived despite modern medicine ("The man who shouldn't be alive"). Doctoring didn't restore him to health. Sadly, this is the current situation. Doctors are peddlers for drug companies, not healers.
10. Pray for the total collapse of the healthcare system as it is killing people left and right and a total collapse is the only way Americans will pull away from their beloved doctors and hospitals.
The public must back away from modern medicine. The only foreseeable way this will happen is if the payment system collapses. The horror stories mount and nothing is done. Mortality rates dramatically decline when doctors go on strike, but few Americans recognize the system itself is hazardous to their health.
Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich spoke of this in his book Medical Nemesis in 1975. American pediatrician Dr. Robert S. Mendelsohn spoke of the failures of modern medicine in his book Confessions of a Medical Heretic, first published in 1980. But these are forgotten epistles.
So what do you do to prepare for the day when insurance cards will no longer be honored and health care beyond affordability (if that day hasn’t already arrived)?
Americans can fix most of their emergent and every-day health problems at home at far less cost – like headaches, coughs, allergies, colds, backaches, infections, pain, etc.
The establishment of a natural medicine chest at home, accompanied by a wee bit of instruction, would reduce health care costs by trillions of dollars. (See prior LR article on how one single vitamin would save $4.4 trillion over a decade.) A list of what comprises a natural medicine chest will be presented tomorrow at LR.